In an odd and brief cross country season in the San Diego Section, juniors Stormy Wallace (left) and Kenan Pala (center), and sophomore Mallory Asis (right) were nonetheless impressive.
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SAN DIEGO -- After the 2019 state cross country championships, where the San Diego Section crowned an individual champion -- Canyon Crest's Carlie Dorostkar, who clocked the fastest time of the day at 16:45.4 -- as well as a record-setting team titlist -- Sage Creek's girls shattered the team time record winning Division IV in 1:30:59 -- there was optimism that 2020 might even be better.
Like the other sections, San Diego never had a chance to prove itself on that stage. But there was a cross country season -- albeit delayed until the winter of 2021 -- and here's a quick look at the highlights.
By season's end, there was no doubt that Patrick Henry would have been a team Top 5 contender in Division I after going 1-3-4-5 with a 51-second gap in the Eastern League 'championships,' which were split into two races over 3.11 miles at Morley Field, then combined. Junior Preston Bowlds led the way with a 25-second victory at 15:49.67.
Expected to be one of the top teams in the state after placing third in Division V last year, Francis Parker was unable to capture the magic of a year ago when two of its top five returning runners decided against competing after the numerous delays. Santa Fe Christian, however, may have been a factor as the Eagles won the meeting of the top D5 schools, the Tri-Meet at Green Oak Ranch, scoring just 29 points, led by junior Alex Bobowski (15:31.1for 5K).
Although Francis Parker didn't win the Tri-Meet team race, junior Kenan Pala covered the 5,000-meter course in a sizzling 15:14.76. That was 32 seconds faster than he ran in the state finals placing fourth a year ago and 25 seconds faster than St. Margarets' Jackson Adelman ran to win that race. He definitely would have been in the mix at Woodward Park since that was the fifth-fastest 5K in the state. Adelman placed fourth in the Tri-Meet.
Point Loma senior Jake Richardson showed massive improvement and beat a strong Western League field by eight seconds in 15:45.0 for 3.11 miles over a Morley Field course at Balboa Park that did not include the Upas Street hill.
A lot of people thought Sage Creek would drop off after three of the top five runners graduated, but that wasn't completely the case. Freshman Kaya Scuba moved right up to the No. 3 spot behind Stormy Wallace and Malia Leupold from last year and senior Katya Sumwalt had her moments. Four of the top five return next season and if the Bobcats can find a No. 5, look out.
Torrey Pines showed both its front-running ability and depth as the Falcons won the End of the Season race which featured 12 North County schools. Junior Annika Salz scored an 11-second victory over Poway's Mackenzie Rogers at 19:05.5 at Kit Carson Park. The top five Falcons return next fall.
There wasn't much doubt that Sage Creek junior Stormy Wallace would have been tough to beat in the section and the No. 1 contender to defending D-V champ Brooke Secreto of Foothill Tech after clocking a 17:09.0 in the Carlsbad 5K. In October she beat Crescenta Valley's Mia Barnett in the Woodbridge Classic Trample the Virus virtual meet, clocking a 16:26.0 for 3 miles.
But she wasn't the Lone Ranger. Newcomer Mallory Asis, a sophomore at Mira Mesa, came within a tick of the clock of cracking 18 minutes over the 3.11-mile Morley Field course when she went 18:00 in the Western League finals. It's difficult to say what runners like Grossmont's Madeline Minutelli (13:48.6 for 2.3 miles) and El Capitan's Amber Chase (13:53.0 for 2.3 miles) might have done if both had a full season and pushed toward 3 miles.
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Steve Brand is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA and serves as the San Diego Section editor.